Share this story


Light up your summer nights with Luminaria

Make these special votives to blend atmosphere and faith

In January, I attended a prayer service for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday at my church. The entire evening was quite beautiful. What really set the tone was what I saw driving up to the church before the service. In the darkness of the night were hundreds of luminaria lining the sidewalk and driveway going into the church. On each was written, “choose life.” They created such a beautiful and serene effect on such a cold January night. Like all of those who came that evening to pray for troubled mothers and their babies, these luminaria were warm beacons of hope in an otherwise dark landscape.

I thought it was a great way to set the tone for an evening of faith and prayer. In fact, I made a mental note that evening to perhaps create some of these for my own home for the next time I entertain or host an event that serves my church or my faith.

Or heck, maybe even for a backyard barbeque – something my husband and I do a lot!

Typically, luminaria are made of a white paper bag filled with sand and a candle, and are displayed in the winter months. However, for summer, I thought it would be neat to change them up a bit. These warm-weather luminaria are made of a metal pail filled with sand and a votive candle. When they are lit, the glow from the candle creates a brilliant affect on the imagery that’s collaged on the inside rim. The collage is up to you. Do you have a devotion to the Blessed Mother or a saint? What about a favorite Gospel reading or religious symbol? Then put it on the inside of the pail. These are much more durable and stable than the paper bag luminaria and can be displayed almost anywhere. One makes an attractive votive holder to place on a patio. In a group, they create quite an ambiance, whether you’re hosting an evening of Christian fellowship or simply having a friend over for dinner. And maybe they’ll even serve as a little light of hope for someone just passing by.

For this project, you will need:

• One or several quart-size metal sand pail(s) with handle (found at an arts and crafts store)

• Any printed religious art finds you have lying around the house. (Old Christmas cards, prayer cards, print from Internet, etc. Be creative!)

• One roll of double-sided clear tape

• Glossy decoupage medium (found at an arts and crafts store)

• Paintbrush

• Play sand  (or art sand found in different colors at an arts and crafts store)

• One or several votive candle(s) (a tea light candle will work also)

The technique is really simple! Adhere your printed religious art to the inside rim of the pail, 3⁄4 of the way toward the bottom (in any fashion) with the double-sided tape. Next, apply a coat of the glossy decoupage medium with a paintbrush over the entire inside of the pail with art. Let dry for a couple of hours. Fill the pail halfway with sand and place the votive inside.

More ideas:

• Don’t limit them to summer use! Each pail could feature a saint and you could display them on Nov. 1 for The Feast of All Saints.

• Use a small citronella candle in place of a regular votive to use on a patio table outside.

• Use a calligraphy paint pen to write a prayer or Bible verse on the pail instead of using the collage technique.

• For really vibrant luminaria, use metal sand pails in different colors.